Does spinach make you strong? Ask Popeye — and science | Health & Fitness

Does spinach make you strong? Ask Popeye — and science | Health & Fitness

Are there any drawbacks?

Even with all its potential, Popeye’s favorite food does have a few downsides. Spinach, especially raw spinach, can lend some people a, well, gassy air. Spinach may taste bland to some palates, but it contains enough sodium naturally that salt doesn’t need to be added to it—if you want to perk it up, it’s better to add lemon juice than salt, since too much sodium is empathically not a good thing.

“Too much of any food is not healthy,” Hord said. “Spinach contains oxalic acid, which may bind minerals in the diet, like calcium, and render them unavailable for absorption.”

If you’re concerned about getting enough calcium in your system, it may be well to leave spinach out of the cheesy lasagnas in which it is so often deployed. Too much oxalic acid is also a recipe for kidney stones, and therefore, Hord added, “this may negatively affect people” who are susceptible to them.

The vitamin K in spinach also “can interfere with the function of blood thinners like warfarin. People taking blood thinners may want to limit their intake of spinach for this reason,” Hord said.

Adding spinach to your diet

Now, with all these provisos in mind, what’s the best way to put spinach to work? All due respect to Popeye, a can may not be the tastiest way to introduce it to your table. Many people enjoy raw spinach in their salad. This is usually fine — just remember that spinach can be a good vehicle for E. coli, Listeria and other harmful bacteria and germs.